Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mailbox Monday (April 2, 2012)

 Mailbox Monday will be hosted in April by Cindy at Cindy's Love of  Books.  In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren.  Hopefully you will find some must reads in the variety that I received this week.  There are a couple that I can't wait to dive into!

by Kelle Hampton

From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, a thriving photography career, and great friends.  When she learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband, Brett, were ecstatic.  Her pregnancy went smoothly and the ultrasounds showed a beautiful, healthy, high-kicking baby girl.

But when her new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong.  Nella looked different than her two-year-old sister, Lainey, had at birth.  As she watched her friends and family celebrate with champagne toasts and endless photographs, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome -- a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed.  Yet gradually Kelle's fear and pain were vanquished by joy, as she embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.

Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life -- a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes.  It is a story about embracing life and really living it, of being fearless and accepting difference, of going beyond constricting definitions of beauty, and of the awesome power of persepctive.  As Kelle writes, "There is us.  Our Family.  We will embrace this beauty and make something of it.  We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky."

A Land More Kind Than Home
by Wiley Cash

For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups.  Adventurous and precocious.  Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump.  Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to -- an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's.  It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared.  While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil -- but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.

Told by three resonant and evocative characters -- Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past -- A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.  These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel. 

Oklahoma City:
What the Investigation Missed -- and Why It Still Matters
by Andrew Gumbel & Roger G. Charles

In the early morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into downtown Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck containing a deadly fertilizer bomb that he and his army buddy Terry Nichols had made the previous day.  He parked in a handicapped-parking zone, hopped out of the truck, and walked away into a series of alleys and streets.  Shortly after 9:00 A.M., the bomb obliterated one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 infants and toddlers.  McVeigh claimed he'd worked only with Nichols, and at least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh's was just one version of events.  And much of it was wrong.

In Oklahoma City, veteran investigative journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles puncture the myth about what happened on that day -- one that has persisted in the minds of the American public for nearly two decades.  Working with unprecedented access to government documents, a voluminous correspondence with Terry Nichols, and more than 150 interviews with those immediately involved, Gumbel and Charles demonstrate how much was missed beyond the guilt of the two principal defendants: in particular, the dysfunction within the country's law enforcement agencies, which squandered opportunities to penetrate the radical right and prevent the bombing, and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.

To this day, the FBI heralds the Oklahoma City investigation as one of its great triumphs.  In reality, though, its handling of the bombing foreshadowed many of the problems that made the country vulnerable to attach again on 9/11.  Law enforcement agencies could not see past their own rivalries and underestimated the seriousness of the deadly rhetoric coming from the radical far right.  In Oklahoma City, Gumbel and Charles give the fullest, most honest account to date of both the plot and the investigation, drawing a vivid portrait of the unfailingly compelling -- driven, eccentric, fractious, funny, and wildly paranoid -- characters involved. 

More Like Her
by Liza Palmer

In Frances's mind, beautiful, successful, ecstatically married Emma Dunham is the height of female perfection.  Frances, recently dumped with spectacular drama by her boyfriend, aspires to be just like Emma.  So do her close friends and fellow teachers, Lisa and Jill.  But Lisa's too career-focused to find time for a family.  And Jill's recent unexpected pregnancy could have devastating consequences for her less-than-perfect marriage.

Yet sometimes the golden dream you fervently wish for turns out to be not at all what it seems -- like Emma's enviable suburban postcard life, which is about to be brutally cut short by a perfect husband turned killer.  And in the shocking aftermath, three devastated friends are going to have to come to terms with their own secrets. . .l and somehow learn to move forward after their dream is exposed as a lie. 

Secret Heroes:
Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World
by Paul Martin

Not all American heroes appear in the standard history texts.  Their achievements aren't celebrated like the monumental exploits of presidents, generals, and founding fathers.  But for as long as this great nation has existed, ordinary citizens have done extraordinary things.  In Secret Heroes, author Paul Martin spotlights thirty overlooked Americans, all of whom had an impact on their world and ours, including:

Hercules Mulligan, the New York tailor and spy who saved George Washington's life. . . twice!

Jimmie Angel, the gold seeking bush pilot who, in 1933, discovered the world's highest waterfall in Venezuela.

Carl Akeley, a pioneering taxidermist who killed a leopard with his bare hands and inspired Africa's first national park.

Eliza Scidmore, who convinced the government to plant cherry trees in Washington, D.C. . . . after twenty-four years of lobbying!

The Bond:
Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
by Wayne Pacelle

In countless fascinating ways, our relationship with animals is an essential part of the human experience.  Now, one of the world's leading champions of animal welfare offers a dramatic examination of our age-old bond to all creatures.  Wayne Pacelle explores the many ways animals contribute to our happiness and well-being, and he reveals scientists' newfound understanding of their remarkable emotional and cognitive capacities.  Pacelle also takes on animal cruelty in its many varieties, as well as stubborn opponents of animal protection -- from multinational agribusiness corporations to the National Rifle Association and even our own government.  An instant classic, The Bond reminds us that animals are at the center of our lives, not just a backdrop, and how we treat them is one of the great themes of the human story.

Winged Obsession:
The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler
by Jessica Speart

One of the world's most beautiful endangered species, butterflies are as lucrative as gorillas, pandas, and rhinos on the black market.  In this cutthroat $200 million business, no one was more successful -- or posed a greater ecological danger -- than Yoshi Kojima, the kingpin of butterfly smugglers.

In Winged Obsession, author Jessica Speart tells the riveting true story of rookie U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Ed Newcomer's determined crusade to halt the career of a brazen and ingenious criminal with an almost supernatural sixth sense of survival.  But the story doesn't end there.  Speart chronicles her own attempts, while researching the book, to befriend Kojima before betraying him -- unaware that the cagey smuggler had his own plans to make the writer a player in his illegal butterfly trade. 

Fated (The Soul Seekers, #1)
by Alyson Noel

At the center of it all is Daire Santos, a 16-year-old girl whose life has taken a bizarre turn -- animals follow her, crows mock her, glowing people appear out of nowhere -- and the disturbing visions are getting worse.  Sent to stay with her grandmother in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico, it is there that Daire learns of her true calling as a Soul Seeker -- one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead.  Now she must embrace her fate and find out if Dace, the boy in her dreams, is her one true love. . . or if he is allied with the enemy she is destined to destroy. 


An Unexpected Guest
by Anne Korkeakivi

Clare Moorhouse is an American in Paris who has been leading a graceful life abroad.  There are pleasures to being married to a high-ranking diplomat, but there are also appearances to be upheld and responsibilities to be executed -- like tonight's unexpected dinner party, one crucial to her husband's career.  As Clare navigates the spring-green streets of Paris, shopping for fresh stalks of asparagus, the right cheeses, and flowers for the table, she is haunted by a brief period of violence in her past that threatens to resurface and crack the immaculate veneer she's worked so hard to achieve.  At tonight's dinner, her husband hopes to receive a new posting.  But to Clare, the potential move means wrestling with a secret that has been deeply and carefully buried for twenty-five years -- or so she thought.

The myriad preparations for dinner are only the beginning of her day's complications.  Clare's son appears on her doorstep, absent without permission from his boarding school.  But much more unsettling is a face in the crowd that she glimpses again and again.  A face that belongs to that other, darker era of her life, and one she never expected to see again.

Like Virginia Woolf did in Mrs. Dalloway, Annd Korkeakivi brilliantly weaves the complexities of an age into an act as deceptively simple as hosting a dinner party in this alluring and timely debut. 

Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells
by Lisa Cach

When Grace Cavanaugh agrees to be a summer companion to her elderly, wealthy Great-Aunt Sophia, she envisions plenty of time to finish her dissertation on sexual politics.  But Sophia has other plans.  With a tart tongue that would put Bette Davis to shame, she sets about transforming her frumpy great-niece into a modern version of the B-movie bombshell Sophia once was, teaching her about men, sexual liberation, and power.  Two very different men provide opportunities for Grace to practice her new skills, but can she truly be both seriously bookish and seriously sexy?  and what does she do when she's attracted to both men?

Wife 22
by Melanie Gideon

Maybe it was my droopy eyelids.

Maybe it was because I was about to turn the same age my mother was when I lost her.

Maybe it was because after almost twenty years of marriage my husband and I seemed to be running out of things to say to each other.

But when the anonymous online study called "Marriage in the 21st Century" showed up in my inbox, I had no idea how profoundly it would change my life.  It wasn't long before I was assigned both a pseudonym (Wife 22) and a caseworker (Researcher 101).  And, just like that, I found myself answering questions. . .

7.  Sometimes I tell him he's snoring when he's not snoring so he'll sleep in the guest room and I can have the bed all to myself.

61.  He was cutting peppers for the salad.  I looked at those hands and thought, I am going to have this man's children.

32.  That if we weren't careful, it was possible to forget one another.

Before the study, my life was an endless blur of school lunches and doctor's appointments, family dinners and budgets.  I was Alice Buckle: spouse of William and mother to Zoe and Peter, drama teacher and Facebook chatter, downloader of memories and Googler of solutions.

But these days, I'm also Wife 22.  And somehow, my anonymous correspondence with Researcher 101 has taken an unexpected turn.  Soon, I'll have to make a decision -- one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life.  But at this moment, I'm too busy answering questons.

As it turns out, confession can be a very powerful aphrodisiac. 

What books came home to you last week?


bermudaonion said...

I got quite a few of those too. I've heard A Land More Kind Than Home is wonderful. I glanced through Bloom when it came and had trouble putting it down. Enjoy!

Unknown said...

You got some many new to me titles and they all sound so good. I am super excited for Alyson's new book. You are a new to me blogger and looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks for leaving your link for MM. Happy reading

Harvee, Book Dilettante said...

What a nice set of books. I have a few of the same and am looking forward to reading them.

ellepaulette said...

What a nice haul! I may have to add some of these to my TBR pile.

Thanks for sharing your goodies!
Dani C

Farah said...

Aww... You already have Fated. I really wanted that. Awesome haul! Enjoy your reads!

Drop by my IMM?

Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict said...

Wow, so many great books! bloom sounds very emotional. An Unexpected Guest is on my tbr list.

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide said...

Boy! You got a lot of books.

Here is mine

RAnn said...

Just pinned Bloom; really want to read it.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

The Unexpected Guest sounds very good. Enjoy all of your new books.

Patricia said...

I can't say anything about your haul because the IMM picture cracks me up too much! Bwahahahahahaha. XD

Patricia // My IMM

Mystica said...

What a nice mailbox!

Tribute Books Mama said...

A nice mix in your mailbox, enjoy!


Irene said...

Great stack of books. Enjoy!


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